Airlines must de-board any passenger before departure if they refuse to wear face mask inside an aircraft even after being warned, aviation regulator DGCA said. Besides, airport operators must take help of the local police and security agencies and levy fines on people not wearing face masks, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a circular.
The circular followed a Delhi High Court order of June 3 which said the “DGCA should issue separate binding directions to all staff persons deployed at the airports and in the aircraft, including flight attendants, air hostesses, captains/pilots and others, to take strict action against passengers and others who violate the masking and hygiene norms”.
All such persons found violating the norms must be fined and persistent defaulters must be placed on the no- fly list, the court had said. The DGCA’s circular said airlines must ensure the passengers wear masks properly on flights and they are removed from faces only “under exceptional circumstances and for permitted reasons”.
If a passenger needs an extra face mask, the airline must provide it, it noted. “The airline shall ensure that in case any passenger does not adhere to above instructions even after repeated warnings, he or she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure,” it said.
In case any passenger refuses to wear mask or violates the COVID-19 protocol even after repeated warnings in flight mid-air, he must be treated as “unruly passenger” as defined in the DGCA regulations, the circular said. The DGCA regulations give powers to airlines to ban passengers for a certain period of time after they have been declared “unruly”.